The Book of Mormon and the Importance of Authority (Mosiah 21:33-34)

In the Book of Mosiah, we read:

“And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God. And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant.

Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord. Now they were desirous to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness.” – Mosiah 21:33-34

The People of Limhi wanted to covenant with God and form a church, but they recognized that they didn’t have the authority to do so. When Ammon arrived from Zarahemla, they asked him to baptize them, but he also said that he was an unworthy servant – lacking the authority to baptize them.

So the people had to wait.

I suppose this teaches us a little bit about the people of the Book of Mormon – they understood the need for authority. Authority is a central concept in Christ’s Gospel and in the Mormon Church. It is a true principle – meaning that it is an eternal principle. The Nephites understood and abided by it.

The authority to baptize and form a church doesn’t come from a school or any institution made by men. We can learn more about authority in the Bible. Paul taught:

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” – Colossians 1:18

Christ is the head of the church, and He was from the beginning. He created the world. He is the firstborn son of God. He was the “firstborn from the dead,” meaning that He was the first to overcome death and be resurrected. He made it possible for us to be able to do the same.

We only have access to this power – the Powers of Heaven – through Him.

The Lord has blessed us with His Priesthood – His Power and His Authority. This power isn’t some kind of free-for all. The Powers of Heaven, which is also the Power of the Priesthood, is operated on principles of righteousness – as modeled by the Savior Himself. Therefore, if we want to have access to Christ’s authority and power in our lives, then we must be righteous.

I suppose I could go on and on about this – I’m sure someone could write a book about authority and the power of the priesthood. But for now, I just want to say that it is a true and necessary thing. And it is something that the people of Limhi, who had humbled themselves, desired. They wanted to join the church. They wanted fellowship with God. They wanted to show their commitment through covenanting with Him. Yet they recognized that they, humans, fallen men and women, weren’t capable of making the terms of such an agreement. It needs to come from God, and there needs to be one with the Authority of God in order to proceed with covenants such as baptism.

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The Sons of Mosiah – Before and After (Mosiah 27:10, 37)

The sons of Mosiah lived varied lives. Like Alma, the younger, they sought to destroy the church. They persecuted and they didn’t believe.

We read:

“And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king—” – Mosiah 27:10

So, the sons of Mosiah and Alma the younger went about to destroy the church. When such persecutions were effectively outlawed, they sought to destroy the church in secret.

What do you suppose is the level of joy in those who destroy or seek to destroy? It’s an interesting thought. Really, if you are bent on destruction, how happy are you?

I recognize that there may be some pleasure in the spoil of destruction. It’s a rush, I guess. But I seriously doubt that these sons of Mosiah and Alma had truly happy and healthy lives. They probably had a hard time transitioning out of such a destructive and painful mindset. My guess is that they assumed others were bent on destruction, deception, and misery. Usually, when we get stuck in this kind of mindset ourselves, it is difficult to imagine any other possibility.

And I have to admit, I think that this life would be miserable. In some ways it is tempting to be that type of person – the type that persecutes condescendingly. Maybe such behavior will make us “feel better” about ourselves. But I think that we’ve all done it before with negative outcomes. It’s a boring life – making fun of other people all of the time. Persecuting and destruction requires no creativity or intelligence. Blah.

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Now, fast forward to the time after the Sons of Mosiah and Alma had converted and their hearts were changed.

“And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.” – Mosiah 27:37

This scripture describes the very same group of people. After repenting and covenanting with God, they declared glad tidings of joy to others. They published peace. They built up rather than tore down.

I know that preaching the gospel and publishing peace isn’t always the most exciting thing to do. They faced rejection and humiliation. But, we can’t discount the impact of the message that they shared. They published peace and the love of God. They were constantly thinking on these concepts and principles. Already, it sounds a lot happier than thinking so much about destruction.

Not only did their work cuase them to be blessed in the future, but I imagine it blessed them immediately. It isn’t difficult to imagine how publishing peace and joy increased their own peace and joy.